Cappuccino Cooking 101

Coffee House Secrets

What better way to start the day than with a great cup of coffee? Here’s how:

The Best Beans Make the Best Coffee

Our roaster, Reunion Island, is known for exceptional coffee beans, and owner Peter Pesce is said to be the best cupper in Canada. His palate is a legend in its own lifetime. To say that Peter is fussy about quality is a supreme example of understatement.

Filtered Water

Muskoka’s natural water supply is fantastic, but we do filter it before using it to brew. Use natural spring water at home if you possibly can.

Buy Whole Beans in Small Amounts

Buying smaller quantities of beans will help stop them from going stale. Coffee beans have properties like those of peanuts and can absorb moisture if exposed to air, but I think of coffee beans like I do a loaf of bread. Keep them in an airtight container at room temperature and consume quickly for maximum freshness. Please do not freeze your beans. Freezing causes them to absorb moisture and the aromas of other foods in the freezer, both of which will destroy the natural flavour of the beans.

Always Grind Fresh

Grinding beans fresh releases their full flavour and full potential. If you buy good-quality beans you may find that a weaker bean can produce a fuller flavour, when finely ground. However, be aware that if you fine-grind a full-flavoured bean, your coffee may have a muddy or mucky flavour.

How Much Coffee Should I Use?

I prefer a flavourful cup of coffee, which requires heavier ounceage. At the café we use 2 ¼ – 2 ¾ oz for a 10-cup pot, depending on the variety. The proper ounceage should produce a full-flavoured, but not bitter, coffee.

How to Make Specialty Coffee

Our most sought-after specialty drinks are cappuccinos and lattes. We’ve made a few over the years. If I had a dollar for every...never mind.

The Golden Rule

Always begin with a cold jug and cold milk. After steaming the milk, let it cool. This allows the bubbles in the milk to set, which will create perfectly sculpted foam. Homogenized milk makes the greatest flavour with a softer foam, 2% milk makes better foam with adequate flavour, and skim milk makes the hardest foam with the least amount of flavour. Play with it until you know what you prefer.

The Jug Meets the Wand

Fill your cold frothing jug one-third full of the cold milk of your choice. Submerge the steam wand into the milk and hold on a slight angle. Turn on the steam. Keep the head of the steam wand just at the surface, half in and half out, creating a squelching noise. Focus on the wand sitting half in and half out at all times, lowering the jug as the milk expands. When your milk reaches 160°F, you’re done (use a clipon thermometer in your frothing jug for optimum accuracy). Set the jug aside and tamp on the counter to harden and condense the air bubbles for better foam. All specialty coffee drinks are made with espresso, milk, and foam; it’s the ratio of ingredients that change the flavour and the name of the coffee.

The Perfect Espresso Shot

When the right espresso bean is ground perfectly, portioned correctly, and filled into a hot brew handle, then tamped with the right pressure, and poured into a warm cup creating a rich creamy swirled tiger-stripe pattern, then and only then has a perfect espresso been poured. Espresso is the base for several other types of coffees.

You can find more fine coffee recipes in Marty’s World Famous Cookbook.

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